Soroco girls hoping frenetic pace helps them slide into regional finals |

Soroco girls hoping frenetic pace helps them slide into regional finals

— Surely, the Soroco High School girls basketball team would have loved to have been in last weekend’s 2A District 5 championship, but third place may have been the biggest favor the Rams could have given themselves.

Soroco suffered a 17-point loss against a state power in Paonia to open the tournament. That tossed the Rams into a third-place contest with Vail Christian, a matchup that has proven to be a thriller after the regular season.

Like it had done two times prior, Soroco edged the Saints, took third place and set itself up in a much more manageable situation this weekend.

On Friday, Vail Christian gets an unfortunate date with 19-2 Cedaredge while the Rams set up a regional first round with a 9-11 Mancos squad. A win on Friday versus the Bluejays would get Soroco into one of eight regional championship games, where Great 8 state tournament bids are up for grabs, but the Rams aren’t looking too far ahead.

“We’ve focused on Friday’s game,” Soroco coach David Bruner said. “We aren’t really worried about Saturday.”

A Friday win wouldn’t just give the Rams a regional championship game berth, it would also tie their senior class for the squad with most wins in school history at 61.

Bruner said a frenetic, up-and-down tempo is how his team loves to play and is a key in avoiding a slow start and jumping toward that 61st win.

And as for the seniors, they’re just hoping to keep their sensational season alive.

“We’re not thinking it’s the end of the road,” senior Kellen Garrity said. “No one is ready for the season to be over.”

Tipoff is at 3 p.m. Friday at Grand Junction High School.

Rams boys gearing up for tough Paonia

Paonia High School has what the Soroco Rams want.

It seems that no matter the sport — football, basketball or wrestling — the Eagles are in contention for multiple state championships. It’s reflected on the court with the players, but it trickles down from longstanding coaches, Soroco coach Shawn Hayes said, and it’s that philosophy the Rams long to implement themselves.

The two boys basketball teams will meet Friday, and it’s a prime chance for the Rams to steal away a little bit of that mojo, but it’s certainly a tall order.

Paonia (18-3 overall) comes into the Region 3 tournament in Grand Junction as one of the top seeds after winning its district last weekend. The Rams slipped up in district play, falling in the opening round and dropping a one-point heartbreaker to Vail Christian in the third-place game.

“A key thing is Paonia has that consistency,” Hayes said about the Eagles’ dominance. “They know what the expectations are, and it builds excitement that filters down into the middle schools and elementary schools.”

On the court, what does Paonia do well?

Just about everything, Hayes said, and the Rams are going to have to rise to the occasion and capitalize on the few opportunities the Eagles give up.

“They’re a complete team,” Hayes said. “It’s tough to focus on one thing to stop them. They’ll play a complete game.”

The season has reached the win-or-go-home phase for the Rams and Eagles. The winner Friday will have a date with either Hotchkiss or Ignacio for the right to go to the 2A state championship rounds.

Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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